DUI Mug Shot Web Site is Discontinued in Hawaii

By Topher

A new program in Hawaii aimed at reducing DUI arrests has been halted for further review.

The Honolulu Police Department launched a pilot program that posted the mug shots and names of DUI suspects online once a week. They hoped the extra attention on the arrests would discourage other potential drunk drivers.

This pilot program has been halted, however, to undergo a review by the Honolulu Police Department.

The Traffic Division operated the web site, which was initially intended to run for six months but made it only four. It started the day before Thanksgiving in 2009.

Every Wednesday for those four months, the photos and names of DUI suspects were posted for 24 hours on a page called “Oahu’s Drunk Drivers,” according to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

Critics of the program stated that it was unconstitutional to post these photos online because it could infringe on the suspects’ right to a fair trial.

Laurie Temple, an attorney for the ACLU of Hawaii, noted that innocent people are sometimes arrested, and that photos posted online could be around forever even if the HPD site only posted them for a limited time. She said that the proliferation of the photos on social media sites like Facebook has validated the concern that these photos will live on long after they aren’t posted on “Oahu’s Drunk Drivers.”

HPD spokesperson Michelle Yu said that HPD did not close down the site as a result of these concerns, though they were aware of the re-posting issue. She said that they had received both positive and negative comments about the site.

The web project will now be reviewed by HPD officials, which was the result of an administrative decision. No photos will be posted during the review process.

One individual on Facebook started a page devoted to re-posting images, so that they were available indefinitely, rather than for the HPD’s 24-hour period. The page had over 10,000 fans. The person who started it, who asked to remain anonymous, claimed she started the page in order to raise awareness of DUI after a friend was killed in an accident in which her boyfriend had been driving under the influence of alcohol.

The executive director of MADD in Hawaii assured the public that though the web site would go down, police would still be out on the streets arresting people for DUI and conducting DUI checkpoints.